Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brooklyn in Big Sky

I didn’t know until recently that there was a place called Big Sky. When I got there, I saw that the sky was really big and Montana is really beautiful. Brooklyn is still the modern Mecca, but damn, it almost doesn’t make sense how beautiful Big Sky is. When I got there I was making jokes to myself that I could possibly be the first Brooklyn black man in Big Sky. I should climb up the tallest peak and stick the flag of the Nation of Islam in the rock and claim Big Sky for the Brotherhood of Flatbush.

They have down hill mountain biking in Big Sky. It is something the natives do for fun. They take bikes on a ski lift several hundred feet up the side of a mountain, then they turn the bikes around and ride down the side of the mountain. If you’ve ever been skiing, you know the feeling of standing at the top of the slope and looking straight out into the sky and how it feels when your stomach knots just a little when you look down the slope. That is on snow. In the summertime ski slopes are mostly rocks, gravel, dirt and neglected grass. My first reaction to the whole idea was, “Yo, that’s madness!”

While I was in Big Sky I was thinking a lot about the relationship between different groups of people, as I always do: scientists and non-scientists, deaf people and hearing people, men and women. The mountain biking madness made me think about the relationship between Brooklyn and Big Sky. I was talking to one of the guys, Tom, who worked in the Bike Shop. He greeted me like Happy People do. “What’s up dude?, How can I help you?” Pleasant, smiling, engaging. “Tell me about this riding down the mountain business?” He smiled even bigger, “Where you from brother?” I told him I’m from Brooklyn. He said, “Right on,” and told me about some time he had been there and how awesome it was.

“Riding down the mountain is awesome!” He told me about it with incredible enthusiasm. All the while he was looking straight at me and talking and smiling and explaining different things that happen and how it is different than the city riding that I do. A friend of his, Will, came in and the two of them continued in the same spirit. They could see that I was skeptical of the whole thing, and I said as much. Somewhere in the middle of it, I realized that they were trying to share some of their world with me. It was a point of entry to a relationship. They kept saying, “Dude you gotta try it.” “I’ve never really even ridden a mountain bike before, let alone down a mountain.” Tom said, “Bro, you look strong and well balanced, that’s all you need.” It was a genuine gesture of welcome. Welcome to Big Sky, welcome to our world.

I said, “A’right bet, let’s do it.” There were pounds all around. “You’re gonna have a blast.”

I thought to myself that rather than stick the flag of the Nation on top of the mountain, I’ll pin it to my shirt so if I kill myself doing this madness someone could identify me as Brooklyn in Big Sky.


1 comment:

luvlife0702 said...

Ahhh Montana!! can't wait to hear how that went! you're a crazy ass rider in cities so you got mad balance and nerves of steel adn you ain't got no traffic so there you go.

i have had a student from big sky and a good friend (a brotha) of mine is from montana. sounds like i need a road trip.

but since i can barely ride a bike down a street i think i'll just watch from below and take pictures of the mad folks who dare take on a mountain on wheels.